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US Exit From WHO, Devastating Loss In Covid War: Harvard Expert

Washington:  US withdrawal from WHO is a devastating loss in the battle against Covid-19, said Harvard Global Health Institute director Ashish K. Jha testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

According to a statement issued by Jha’s office on Tuesday, the decision to leave the WHO doesn’t just harm the rest of the world — it hurts the US, as well. He emphasized that by ending the relationship with WHO at this critical moment, the US is removing itself from the most important decisions surrounding this virus.

“We are sending a message that the US is an undependable partner, that we cannot be counted on for collaboration in a global crisis. And we are leaving a leadership vacuum within WHO for other countries to fill,” said Jha.

Citing the vacuum in the research and development on Covid-19, if the US were to leave WHO, Jha said leaving WHO also separates the US from much of the leading research and development around COVID-19.

Scientists from countries around the world turn to WHO to share samples and collaborate on quickly building an evidence base. “A notable example of this is WHO’s SOLIDARITY Trial, the world’s largest clinical trial of COVID-19 therapies.

“There is no substitute for WHO. Its unique position as an international agency made up of 194 member states gives it an unparalleled legitimacy and capacity to facilitate collective action and political will,” said Jha.

He emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic is still accelerating, and record-breaking daily increases in Covid-19 cases continue, and deaths are also rising worldwide.

“The pandemic is still in its early stages in most parts of the world, with cases still on their first uphill climb in Latin America, Africa, and large parts of Asia, as well as a resurgence of cases right here in the US,” added Jha.

Detailing on WHO’s unique position in the global health scenario, Jha said WHO’s role in helping countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), cannot be overstated.

“These nations’ ministries of health are heavily dependent on WHO for technical expertise and guidance on pandemic response. WHO is deeply embedded in LMICs — whereas local health officials in the US turn to the CDC for help, health officials in most other countries turn to WHO during an outbreak,” he added.

Jha cited that the US provides about 15 per cent of WHO’s funding and 10 per cent of WHO’s collaborating centers for research and development are hosted in the US. He added that the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has played a critical role in facilitating public health emergency management training events and supporting the deployment of staff and resources to respond to crises.

“It’s clear that cutting US ties with WHO significantly hampers WHO’s ability to execute on its mission,” said Jha.

 (IANS)

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